Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

Workers people group.
I’m not sure whose idea it was to declare Labor Day a national holiday, I just know I am forever grateful the idea was implemented. According to Wikipedia, some say it was Peter McGuire and others say Matthew Maguire. To me, they both sound like Midlife MacGyver. Go figure.
A well-timed holiday, like Labor Day after the first few weeks of the school year, makes me appreciate all the labor that leads up to it.
Last night, around the time I subconsciously start to stress about another work week, I relaxed into the realization that I have another day to go places and do things – even if it’s just to my deck to watch my puppy chase a hummingbird moth.
All work and no play makes me an edgy educator. I’m all for putting the petal to the metal when the project, performance, or people demand it. But I’m also a stickler for self-care and putting your own oxygen mask on first so you can assist those you set out to serve. You can’t do that if you can’t breathe.
Sometimes all you need to catch your breath is a little time off.
Other times you need full on engagement and involvement in something deeply meaningful.
The best way I know how to explain this is to share this except from David Whyte’s  Crossing the Unknown Sea. David is talking with his friend, monk, and mentor, Brother David.

“Tell me about exhaustion,” I said. He looked at me with an acute, searching, compassionate ferocity for the briefest of moments, as if trying to sum up the entirety of the situation and without missing a beat, as if he had been waiting all along, to say a life-changing thing to me. He said, in the form both of a question and an assertion: “You know that the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest?”
“The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest,” I repeated woodenly, as if I might exhaust myself completely before I reached the end of the sentence. “What is it, then?”
“The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.”
He looked at me for a wholehearted moment, as if I should fill in the blanks. But I was a blank to be filled at that moment, and though I knew something pivotal had been said, I had not the wherewithal to say anything in reply. So he carried on:
“You are so tired through and through because a good half of what you do here in this organization has nothing to do with your true powers, or the place you have reached in your life. You are only half here, and half here will kill you after a while. You need something to which you can give your full powers. You know what that is; I don’t have to tell you.”

Six years ago I spent seven glorious days in the Lake District with David Whyte and an amazing group of individuals who had traveled from various continents to spend their mornings in quiet reflection with the great poet and their afternoons in a moving meditation, soaking in both the beauty of the place and the sacredness of the spoken word.
Having this extraordinary experience with an incredible group of people in a gorgeous location was possible because I had spent years preparing myself for precisely this kind of opportunity. Even if I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at the time.
No time, no energy, no money, no relationship, or no experience is ever wasted if it prepares you for your next adventure.
The next adventure for me is diving into a new project that will help me create experience products as opposed to information products and deliver them in a very real and rewarding way. You’ll be experiencing more of this in the next 8 weeks.

You can allow yourself to burn out or you can ignite the light that can only be lit from within.

Do whatever it takes to stoke that fire. Read some books. Watch some videos. Attend a workshop. Go to the mountaintop. Head to the beach. Work out. Take a nap. Nourish yourself with food, family, or friends.
What you may discover is this:  the fruit of your labor is often the labor itself. And doing the work – the work that only you can do – is indeed worth celebrating.
I’d love for you to share the work you are celebrating in the comments below.
 
 
 

No Matter What – Day 5

No Matter What Game …. find out how you can play below post.
Woman is lost and wanders into a book with glow lights.
G: Your mentioned in your last post “I currently have 5 books begging to be birthed”. Give us a taste of each book.
P:  The theme that runs throughout all my books is the idea of “Lost & Found“.  I believe we need to get lost before we can truly find ourselves, our sidekicks, and our way in the world.
As cliché as it sounds, it really is the journey, the climb, the adventure that makes the man or woman. We need to set out on our grand adventures with the best of intentions so when we discover the road from here to there is under construction, we can see these detours for what they really are. Divinely orchestrated and unexpected side trips where we encounter the people, places, and experiences we need for our character (and stories) to emerge.  Joseph Campbell called this the hero’s journey.
One of my favorite phrases is part of a longer quote by J.R.R. Tolkien,  “Not all who wander are lost.”  That would be the title of choice for my stories about Santa Fe and why it attracts so many people who feel exiled from other places.
Another book about living the creative life in the Land of Enchantment would be The Dog, The Desert, and the Days that Define a Life.  My dog Malcolm and I had the most extraordinary adventures involving red racers, bulls, javelinas, hawks and a wide variety of other dogs as we hiked/housesat/dogsat our way through Santa Fe.
I particularly like stories of pilgrimages and hikes; works that explore inner as well as outer journeys.  I was thrilled to see Cheryl Strayed’s book “Wild” and Bill Bryson’s book, “A Walk in  the Woods” become movies.  I also love books and movies about the Camino De Santiago. I especially enjoyed The Way with Martin Sheen.
At the same time I’m concerned the market will be saturated with these walking stories before I have the chance to write mine.
The Lost Ladies of Cumbria is about a week long hiking trip with poet David Whyte through the Lake District told from the perspective of seven middle-aged women.  The circumstances that brought each of us to that place and that time are themes I think many women at midlife can relate to.
We often hear about men’s midlife crises, but women’s stories have largely been left untold.  (Except for Stella.) This book gives those stories a voice while weaving in the incredible poetry and wisdom of a gifted poet.
I’d love to create a day book called A Penny for Your Thoughts which could be a compilation of blog posts and the Midlife Manifesto I crafted a few years ago.
And last but not least, I plan to turn a class I designed and taught 11 years ago called Read It & Leap! into an ebook that ideally you will be able to download on February 29,  2016.  Yes, approximately three Leap Days after I originally conceived of the idea, I’d like to finally birth this baby.  Long labor, yes?
So, there you have it.  The books demanding I write them into existence.  Which one would you like to read first?  Let me know in the comments below.
*******************************************
Follow along or play the No Matter What Game weekdays at www.midlifemacgyver.com.  The world’s best coach Gillian sends me a prompt each weekday and I post a response no matter what.  You are welcome to use the same prompt and record your answers in a private journal, share with a group, or even better, share in the comments below! If you’d prefer to have your own prompts sent just to you, contact Gillian at https://www.facebook.com/gillianpearcecoach.

Shut Up and Dance With Me

Couple of blue footed boobies performing mating dance
Before discovering Sirius XM and the singers and songwriters on the Coffee House, I was stuck in the 80s musically.  Of this, I am not particularly proud.
Today I can easily sing along with almost any song because I absolutely love discovering new music. And let’s face it, I have a lot of catching up to do.
According to JibJab, the song of the summer is Shut Up and Dance With Me.  Although I prefer the less offense directive “shut it” to “shut up”, it’s a very catchy tune and often times the only way to get someone you love on the dance floor.
One of the benefits of having over seventy needles poked in my face, ears, fingers, toes, arms, legs, and belly on a regular basis is not just the elimination of my allergies, but the triumphant return of Mr. Sandman and the Technicolor Dreams. In other words, I’m sleeping like a baby after decades of disturbed sleep.
Like Joseph, another Technicolor dreamer, my dreams are worthy of a musical. Based on last night’s review, my musical wants to be called none other than “Shut Up and Dance With Me.”
Actually the precise words delivered in the dream were “Ah… but we were asked to dance.”
This came after a jam packed day of College for Kids, meeting with the local press, staying late to meet publication deadlines  for our fall catalog, and deciding to watch an artsy movie on Amazon Prime, since our satellite provider went out for the eighth time in two months.
The movie was called Still Life.  It’s a slow moving, sad story about a bloke who lives alone and works in a sterile and solitary bureaucratic environment.  His job is to find the family or friends of those who die alone so he can give them a proper burial.  Unfortunately, these are usually people who have lived their lives in such a way that they’ve alienated anyone who might care.
But our protagonist cares in his odd and autistic way. Despite the depressing subject and the maddeningly methodical pace at which he performs his job, something compelled me to keep watching.
Maybe it’s the thing that compels us all to keep plugging away.  The hope that what we do matters to someone. That at some point in our life someone will hear the same beat we move to and ask us to dance. Or we recognize it in others and ask them to dance.
The problem with watching a movie or television or engaging in media before bedtime is it’s much harder for me to quiet my mind. Especially if the information I’ve consumed is emotionally charged or unsettling.
When I finally got to sleep, my own version of Still Life unfolded.  In the dream I was following a little bird through all kinds of quirky conundrums.
Despite the craziness, I remember feeling very much alive and pleased with this peculiar path.  Just before I woke up someone joined me as we were  perched precariously on the side of a building Spiderman style.
Realizing it’s all an absurd adventure that could end any minute, he smiled appreciatively and said like a true guru, “Ah… but we were asked to dance.”
And then I woke up to a chorus of birds chirping and presumably dancing outside my window.
I’d love to know how you are being asked to dance these days and, with all due respect, if you would “shut up and dance with me“?
Share if you dare in the comments below.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

“If the only prayer you ever say is thank you, it will suffice.”  – Meister Eckhart
It’s here once again.  My favorite holiday of the year.  A day dedicated to giving thanks and appreciating all that is good and plenty and ours to experience.
It’s been an amazing year.  As often as possible I’ve attempted to blog about it because for me, an experience isn’t assimilated until it’s articulated.  Once I committed to learn, grow, and connect in a very public way, each risk I took  opened the door to the next big thing.  Often times opportunities overlapped, making life that much more interesting.
My writing life has been full of plot twists, unruly characters, unexpected drama, comic relief, tragedy, mistaken identities, and happily ever afters interrupted by reality scripts.  Had I been given a choice of superpowers, I may have picked a talent that would more clearly catapult me to super stardom or super service. But for argument’s sake, I’m going to assume I did have a choice and my soul choose writing.  Consequently I will wield my words accordingly.
It’s interesting that the thing others find extraordinary about us is often the thing we consider the most ordinary.  We mistakenly believe if we can do something, so can everyone else.  It’s almost preposterous to think people will pay us to do what we do naturally.
But it happens every day.  Yesterday, for example, I consulted an expert in web design for speakers, writers, and coaches. In about twenty minutes I discovered I could take my business to a place I’ve not been able to get it to in twenty years.  Yes, it will require a considerable investment of time, effort, focus, and vision as well as cash.  But I am thrilled to know there are people out there who are extremely good at the things I am not.  Aligning myself with them,  frees me up to focus on what I do best while they do what they do best.
I also had a chance to catch up with friends who have believed in my dreams long before there was evidence they would come true.  Talking with them was so nourishing because they have been there, listened to, and participated in every iteration of my evolution and still support the ongoing unfolding with unbridled enthusiasm.
So yes, I love it that there is a day devoted to giving thanks.  Because in my world, despite a few failures and downright disasters, so much to be grateful for remains.  Here are a few things on my gratitude list.  I’m grateful for you, for a couple of days off work from a good job, for time to walk the dogs, connect with family and friends, eat good food, watch movies, stay home while other people shop, play cards or board games, spend time in nature, and write until my heart’s content.
What about you?  What are you thankful for this year?  Share if you dare in the comments below.
PS – I know the holidays can be rough for those of you who have suffered a loss or multiple losses or are struggling with financial, health, or relationship challenges. In these instances it may feel impossible to feel grateful.  Yet I do believe the saying, “There is always something to be grateful for.”  It may be hard to believe this when you’re feeling incredibly low, but I’ve found that identifying even the simplest thing to be grateful for helps the healing begin.